26 February 2009

mourning after


it's been nine months since i lost morgan, my little feline companion of almost nineteen years. i still think about him pretty much every day. thinking about him still makes me cry sometimes, such as this past weekend, when i was playing with a kitten whose behaviour reminded me uncannily of him.

however, my remaining felines have served notice that the official mourning period is at an end, that a crucial bridge has been crossed.

within the last couple of weeks, both of my cats have started climbing into what was once morgan's chair and napping. for almost nine months, neither of them would touch it. arthur, my elder cat, slept under it, but neither of them would raise a paw to its surface. now that's changed. i'm not sure why, but the invisible barrier has been pierced and now there is frequently a cat- it alternates which one- in the chair.

it both warms and pierces my heart seeing them in there, but i think i get the message. they'll always be climbing into HIS chair, but at least they feel comfortable doing so.

25 February 2009

goodbye and good riddance...

well, after a slight delay, i am officially severing my ties with bell canada. yesterday, i arranged to have my telephone services transferred to another provider- something that even a few years ago would not have been an option.

strangely, i remember that years ago, bell canada's customer service was not that bad. it seems that, perversely, they've gotten worse since the market has opened up. then again, maybe it's not so perverse. after all, the opening of the market to competition means that everyone is vying for the greatest number of dollars. so in order to get the largest infusion of money, companies like bell are going to give priority to their largest customers, the people who have the biggest effect on their balance sheets, whereas, when customers had no one else to go to, bell might have been able to afford a slightly more egalitarian structure. chances are that my nightmarish experience with bell is offset somewhere along the line by a huge corporate contract that went their way, because their competent people have been diverted to working on that sort of thing.

frankly, i don't care.

all i care about is that the phone works and that i'm getting bills that are accurate. since i have other services with my new provider, i'm confident that they can meet these requirements. the fact that their service is also far cheaper than bell's is really just a bonus.

so, after a lifetime of service from bell or its subsidiaries, i've moved on. my infuriating saga with them (see earlier blog posts tagged "bell canada") may live on as some training seminar for prospective customer service representatives. i just hope that, when they're playing back the phone calls and going through the good points and bad points, that they know to tell them how the story ends and why.

24 February 2009

odd man out


since no one else seemed inclined to mention this, i'd just like to call attention to a little fact about barack obama's brief sojourn to canada last week. he met with prime minister stephen harper and leader of the opposition michael ignatieff, which means the meetings involved two men who believed (although i don't think either of them still do) that the current war in iraq was justified and necessary and one man who didn't. guess who the odd man out is? hint: i shudder for my nation.

20 February 2009

auto-destruct

i don't own a car. i never have and, considering that it's my preference to live in cities, i don't plan on owning one in the near future.

that said, when the auto industry came begging to government to save them, both in the united states and, more quietly, here in canada, i wasn't entirely averse to propping them up. even if you take the libertarian capitalist view that, if these companies are allowed to collapse, someone will buy up their assets and start a new car company, you need some kind of plan for dealing with the interim real world where millions of people in both the primary and secondary industries will be thrown out of work. basically, the government is going to pay for those people one way or the other, either in the form of auto-industry support or in the form of employment insurance and welfare. by bailing out the car companies, you at least have the chance of getting the money back at some point in the future.

this was supposed to be the week where we found out what the payback plan looked like. this was the week when the automakers were going to reveal their plan to get lean and get serious about reversing the flow of money out their door. and they seem to have got a handle on the first part, however, the plan is decidedly lacking on details about the second half of that equation.

car companies have shown that they are more than capable for planning for cutbacks- that they can strategically eliminate jobs and facilities or curtail benefits to current and previous employees. the problem with that, if you're the one loaning them money (and you are), is that cutting back on expenses doesn't help them pay off their loans. It just means that they're going to take a longer time to go through the money your handing them. in the midst of discussing what concessions workers are and aren't going to agree to, no one seems to be asking what it is that's going to generate the money that will be used to repay the loans their taking out now.

to put this in perspective, picture yourself applying for a bank loan. the person at the bank asks you to tell them your plan for repaying the loan and your answer is "i'm going to move to a cheaper apartment, get rid of my cable and high speed internet and i'm not going to eat take out any more". what are the odds that you're going to get that loan? (actually, to carry this analogy further, the auto industry's ascertain that, in contrast to actual events, americans will just buy more cars than ever and that this will allow them to pay back what they owe would be akin to telling a banker that you intend to repay your personal loan by earning more money and leaving it at that.)

i don't like the idea of putting millions of people out of work. i don't like the idea of shutting down a sector that will throw the economy into more turmoil. i'm looking for work as it is and, to be selfish for a moment, i don't need the competition.

however, what i've seen this week doesn't inspire me to open my taxpayer's purse. we may need an auto industry in north america, but i think we also need a completely different group of people running it.

17 February 2009

dj kali @ burning monday 2009.02.16

sometimes, you are the technical glitch you fear... everything at the bar worked fine, unfortunately, i forgot to bring a quarter inch adapter for my headphones, so i was sort of flying blind, unable to listen to anything on cue before i actually played it... whoever thought a quarter inch could make such a difference?

coil :: careful what you wish for
nocturnal emissions :: don't believe it's over
xeno and oaklander :: blue flower
perverse teens :: la baboute
six finger satellite :: baby's got the rabies
big black :: kerosene
jfk :: oh men
wire :: mannequin
iggy pop :: i am the passenger
the cramps :: human fly
novy svet :: rios del exceso
john foxx :: underpass
holger hiller :: jonny
die form :: analogic
herz juhning :: i deserve
front 242 :: rerun time
the slits :: typical girls
kukl :: the spire
liars :: there's always room on the broom
siouxsie & the banshees :: hong kong garden
joy division :: warsaw
death in june :: heaven street
numb :: eugene
hula :: cold stare
severed heads :: spitoon thud [was fine until the cd just. stopped. dead.]
nina belief :: android emotions
novy svet :: en possession de te

12 February 2009

press corpse

i watched most of barack obama's speech and press conference the other night, more by accident than by design, and i couldn't help but notice something that made me angry. (in general, i try to avoid watching a lot of television, since there's almost always something in there that causes my blood pressure to rise.)

the questions that were directed at the new president were generally very well-thought out, intelligent, challenging ones. this was one of the first opportunities that the washington press gallery had to directly question obama, so maybe they were like kids on the first day of school, energised and eager, but their input could hardly have been in greater contrast to that displayed during the seemingly interminable bush years. i routinely remember, during the few press conferences i watched during that time, that i was often given to wonder if the members of the press had had a contest where they decided chiefly to ask questions submitted by preschool children (and even then, the questions were of pretty poor caliber), since they avoided asking anything of the president that might have seemed even slightly tough, that had any whiff of digression from his line of, um, logic.

obama handled most of the questions pretty well, which is to be expected, since we all know he's an articulate man, accustomed to presenting his ideas to groups of people who may or may not agree with him. but his answers, whatever you may think of them, aren't the main issue. what galls me is the implicit message in the behaviour of the press corps. they can ask obama tougher questions precisely because they know he can handle them without looking bad. so the press is apparently allowing itself to interrogate the president only to the extent that he can handle. they stop themselves at the point where they might embarrass him.

of course, in that kind of situation, it's a given that no president will ever have to answer for anything that might have implications that beyond what they can comfortably explain. in the previous administration, this was painfully obvious, but nothing has really changed. in team sport, the threshold for determining individual ability shifts, depending on the skill level of the players involved. what happens in washington seems to follow the same rules. when you have a skilled political player, like an obama, you can increase the difficulty level in order to take advantage of his superior abilities.

the problem with this model is that what is not addressed can be more important than anything. the press can and should ask very tough questions about the preconceptions that form the basis of government policy, even when those questions run the risk of embarrassing the government and the president.

veteran journalist helen thomas offered the only moment of possible awkwardness in the entire press conference (although she had to know that the president would refuse to give the answer we all know anyway) when she asked if there were any middle eastern states in possession of nuclear weapons. beyond this anemic effort, it was very much business as usual. the players have changed, but the game remains the same.

10 February 2009

dj kali's musical emporium!


one of the projects i've been working on lately is developing a music section for a new arts magazine called PARAPHILIA. as part of that, i now have a separate blog, which will feature content separate from that included in the magazine, but related.

those of you familiar with this blog will have an idea of the kind of music that i'll be covering. those interested in submitting material for review should feel free to contact me for details on how to do this.

the blog- still very much in its infancy- can be found here... more information to follow in the near future.

09 February 2009

tool time


i don't know a whole lot about home renovations or building maintenance. being a lifelong renter with no immediate urge to change limits my ability to effect major changes in my habitat (landlords tend to get a little annoyed when a tenant removes a wall). that said, there are a few things that i've picked up over time that have served me well. i'm very familiar with the perils of measuring windows to fit blinds (you only think they're rectangular). i can accurately locate studs in the walls (yes, we all have them). i know how to attach ceiling lamps.

and another thing that i've learned is that hardware stores have products specialised to meet the needs of most jobs. so as long as you know what it is that you're doing- what you're drilling into, what surface is being painted, what voltage plug you're working with- the tools for the job are pretty idiot-proof.

if i know these things, i assume that people who actually have some financial stake in building maintenance should know at least as much and, hopefully, a good deal more. after all, they're the ones people like me are going to call when they hit the limits of their knowledge.

which is why it surprises me that much of my weekend was spent acting as an assistant while my boyfriend stripped paint off our bathtub. i don't mean that we were removing it because it was ugly. i mean that whatever genius decided to cover up the wear on the tub's enamel opted to do so with standard issue, exterior latex paint in a high gloss finish. for the last months we've been watching as the completely inappropriate medium cracked, flaked and peeled. we've also been holding on for dear life, since the paint surface made the bathtub rather dangerously slippery.

ironically, it's not like the enamel underneath is in bad shape, but even if you wanted to cover it, there are products specifically designed for the purpose. it worries me a little that i routinely trust the maintenance of my home to someone who has yet to discover that there are different sorts of paint, clearly labeled, all suited to different applications.

this isn't purely a renter's dilemma, either. we all feel the need to consult experts in this area from time to time and we do so with the understanding that they have some, well, expertise, that makes them better qualified to judge what needs to be done. a former boss of mine once discovered that the new roof he'd just paid for was comprised partially of leftover pieces of aluminum siding the roofers had found in the garbage next to a neighbour's house.

it makes me feel like i should skip the middle man and just learn how to do all of this stuff myself, the downside being that, if i did, i'd have little time for anything else. i'm not sure how far i have to take this mistrust of professional expertise (i already rarely go to the doctor), but it seems like it could be an endless cycle. at least if i'm doing everything for myself, i won't need to worry about what idiot screwed things up when they go wrong.
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